RFID im Blick

“eTickets via your smartphone mark a major change“ | Interview with VDV eTicket Service

Articles | By PR RFID im Blick | 28 July 2015
VDV core application (VDV-KA) is the open data and interface standard for eTicketing or Electronic Fare Management (EFM) in German public transport and is published, managed and refined by the VDV eTicket Service. VDV core application (VDV-KA) is the open data and interface standard for eTicketing or Electronic Fare Management (EFM) in German public transport and is published, managed and refined by the VDV eTicket Service.

eTicket technology brings more than just a switch from paper tickets to smart cards, with new developments bringing both challenges and benefits for the future

VDV eTicket Service is the operator of the VDV core application, which is now the standard platform used for eTicketing in Germany, benefiting millions of people mainly in urban areas. It sees itself primarily as the system developer, rather than administrator, and has new initiatives planned to allow for use of NFC smartphones, increased safety management and international standardisation. ‘RFID im Blick’ talked with Niels-Zeino Mahmalat, Managing Director at VDV eTicket Service, on the challenges and future for eTicketing systems.

Niels Zeino-Mahmalat, Managing Director, VDV eTicket Service, in interview with ‘RFID im Blick’

Niels Zeino-Mahmalat“It’s clear we need a change of culture in the German public transport association in order to increase eTicketing roll-out and benefits to customers, and it’s our priority now to approach the international mobile players so we can get smartphones capable of eTicketing.”

How widespread is eTicketing in German public transport ?

Public transport in Germany is very diverse in its structure. As a result, the actual number of passengers taking part is less significant. The regional public transport association Rhein-Ruhr, for example, covers an area of more than eight million people, but rural associations may serve only 30,000 inhabitants. What’s more interesting is looking at the sales figures involved. Across the German public transport associations annually, 10 to 11 billion Euros are taken in fares, with around two billion of that made up by eTicket sales.

Is the uptake of eTicketing on the increase?

There were two waves. First there was the comprehensive launch of the VDV core Application in 2006, when proprietary eTicket systems in the “Rhein-Ruhr” region were replaced and around one million subscription customers became ‘(((eTicket Germany’ users overnight. Then, after 2012 the positive trend accelerated once more and the number of participants has doubled in recent years. The implementation of the VDV core application – as nation-wide standard – was the basis for this success.

What’s next for eTicketing?

We’re currently active in three fields. Firstly we’re working towards international standardisation to allow eTicketing on NFC-enabled smartphones. We’re also looking to increase the integration of mobile ticket systems in Germany generally, and develop innovations such as Be-in/Be-out registration and ID ticketing. These are clearly areas with immediate significance for R&D.

But is eTicketing secure?

Simply put, we conform to all legal requirements that relate to data security, which is our primary duty of care. Each day, millions of passengers in Germany rely on us to use state-of-the-art secure technology. When it comes to encryption, we comply with the guidelines for ciphers set out by Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security, and the security we deliver in our server centres is on a par with that in the banking sector.

Are eTickets on smartphones the next logical step?

We definitely see this as an option. But before smartphones can be used nationwide, there are obstacles to overcome. What’s certain is that using smartphones in this way would mark a major change.

Why a major change?

As long as eTicket cards are issued by VDV, it’s possible to maintain 100% control of the technology. But when it comes to smartphones, our developers are dealing with different operating systems, different hardware versions and possible interactions with other apps. And the rate of development is also a factor, with new smartphone models appearing all the time.

Does that mean NFC smartphones are not a good thing?

We see smartphones as the future of eTicketing and we’re taking them into account in the integration of mobile ticketing systems of individual public transport associations. At the same time, we’re involved in international committees such as the NFC Forum, as well as working groups of the GSMA, that represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide. In cooperation with the European Public Transport association we communicate our views and requirements on future developments in NFC. Our goal is to work with NFC smartphone manufacturers to carve out our technical environment when using the NFC chip technology for Ticketing solutions.

RFID tomorrow-2015Nils Conrad, M.A., Head of the Competence Center Electronic Fare Management NRW, speaks at the RFID tomorrow 2015 on the 29th of September in Forum 4 - "Security with NFC and RFID" about:

"The Future of Ticketing in Public Transportation is Contactless and Mobile"

Last modified on Friday, 28 August 2015 10:59